Developing for the NHS App Library

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Sara Ver-Bruggen
3 min

All about the NHS Apps Library and how to prepare your innovation for assessment to join the resource.

The NHS Apps Library is the “shop window” for all digital healthcare apps officially recognised by the UK’s biggest healthcare and social care provider organisation. The library is a publicly accessible site with potential to be accessed by millions of patients and citizens.  

NHSX, a joint unit of NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care, is responsible for assessing digital healthcare technologies, including all those that make it into the NHS Apps Library.

What is DTAC?

This is done via the Digital Technology Assessment Criteria (DTAC) for health and social care, which provides national baseline criteria for digital health technologies entering the NHS and the social care sector.

The purpose of DTAC is to give staff, patients and citizens confidence that the digital health tools they use to meet the health service’s clinical safety, data protection, technical security, interoperability and usability and accessibility standards.

For digital health innovators and app developers, passing DTAC assessment, is a critical step in ensuring that their product meets the NHS’ minimum baseline standards for entry into the NHS and social care, while healthcare organisations and procurers can use the DTAC to assess suppliers at the point of procurement or as part of a due diligence process.

The assessment criteria is made up of five core components, which include an assessed section and a scored section, to enable assessors to evaluate digital health technologies. The assessed section comprises areas such as clinical safety, data protection and interoperability criteria, while the scored section deals with the usability and accessibility of digital health tools. Find out more about this assessment criteria in the blog "Understanding Evidence Standards for Digital Health Technologies", available here and guest-written for the SimDH programme by SEHTA.

Developers will need to gather the required evidence to make sure their product meets the assessment criteria and may be required to provide this evidence during the procurement process.

Support for start-ups and SMEs with a potential NHS Innovation

For developers and innovators that have not commercialised apps and other digital technology innovations within the NHS before, it can be helpful to work with a recognised programme designed to ease commercialisation pathways within the UK’s health and social care sectors.

South Bank Innovation's free digital health accelerator programme, Simulation for Digital Health (SimDH), provides all the support start-ups and SMEs need by providing them with access to extensive academic knowledge within London South Bank University (LSBU), coupled with the wide experience of industry partners.

SimDH is designed to provide bespoke support for innovators at various stages of commercialising their product or service. This support can involve preparing start-ups for knocking on doors at the NHS.

For example, when developers and innovators join the programme, they can collaborate with academics from the Schools of Business, Health and Social Care, Applied Sciences and Engineering. These academic collaboration projects can receive support in the development or evaluation of the product with these schools, which can include technical support in the development of the product or service, or research projects to independently evaluate the product for usability, safety and/or efficacy – key criteria for the all-important DTAC assessment.

Projects can be on a prototype, aimed to build or evaluate functionality with a view to launching to market, or they can be projects on products that are already launched to market to independently demonstrate efficacy and safety.

SimDH – a unique opportunity

Cohorts on the SimDH programme can learn about what systems, technology or processes can improve their chances of launching their app within the NHS as well as private healthcare as well as learn about best practice and the different digital technologies and data protection standards that their app will need to meet.

Start-ups accepted onto previous cohorts have described SimDH programme as a “unique opportunity” to obtain in-depth knowledge on accessing the NHS, which is normally hidden or hard to realise without the expert experiences provided by partners that help deliver the programme.

It’s time to find out how SimDH can help you prepare your app for the NHS Apps Library- visit now to discover more and apply!

Applications for the SimDH Programme's third cohort will close on Sunday 5 December 2021, 23:59.